LL Bean has long been known for doing classic New England prep. But in a market alongside "classic American" brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew and American Eagle, Bean can seem old and staid. Hence the "signature" collection!
LL Bean Signature offers "new classics" inspired by the LL Bean back catalog. In other words: Our usual clientele is old now, and we need new, younger customers, so we're going to try to be "hip," but our way. This means plaid, and lots of it.
A tweed riding jacket is reminiscent of Bean's hunting and fishing heritage — and if you have your own horse, you may not flinch at the $225 price tag. Stretch corduroy pants, on the other hand, are so very now.
In my mind, LL Bean shills natural fibers for natural people, so a rayon shirt — even a super cute one like this — doesn't seem right somehow.
But it makes sense to take an LL Bean staple — the famous waterproof boot — and give it a little update. It's taller and lined with shearling — perfect for crossing the quad at Colby. At $299, it is not cheap, but it is guaranteed. By the way, LL stands for Leon Leonwood. Impress a friend!
These wool tartan pants might be controversial — this kind of thing can seem clownish in the wrong hands — but I love them. According to the copy, they are "a modern reworking of the Black Stewart Men's tartan slacks from our 1970 catalog." LOVE.
There's no doubt whatsoever that this alpaca/wool turtleneck is incredibly warm. And in my experience, LL Bean sweaters last forever. The herringbone check skirt seems like the perfect thing to wear when you're hosting a Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner and it's snowy outside.
Cute? Dorky? School-girl-ish? FLDS chic? So hard to decide.
Opinion: Accessories are not this collection's strong point.
But you will find cozy, wearable, durable pieces you can mix with stuff you've already got.
But really: Beyond the waterproof boots, skip the accessories. Really.
Some of the men's stuff looks pretty good — nothing earth-shattering, but sturdy, well-made basics like a wool trench and flannel pants are important to any wardrobe.
The jeans, however, are a nightmare.
But since we're experiencing a return to beards, butchering your own meat and other retro-manly stuff, a lot of the things you may have seen on your grandpa — a shawl-collared sweater and plaid trousers — suddenly look very cool, comfy and now.
And if you're a true New Englander, some of this stuff never really went "out."
LL Bean Signature [Official Site]
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See also: All previous catalog posts